Profile: The Cat 'n' Around Cat Club of Des Moines, Iowa

by Andrea Dorn

Why do we do it? Why do we travel to towns we'll never really see, spend so much time and money on something that wears us out and earns us so little in return? Why do we sit and wait entire weekends for the call of a simple number?

We do it for our egos, the companionship and the time spent in the company of cats. But mostly we go to cat shows because it is fun. Yet beyond that, members of the Cat 'n' Around Cat Club enjoy being members of a progressive club that is developing a reputation in central Iowa for helping the cat fancy community in ways that go beyond the fun cat shows.

A little more than seven years ago, on May 15, 2002, a group of seven Central Iowans gathered at Paglia's Pizza in Ankeny to discuss the need for a new ACFA club. The result was the Cat 'n' Around Cat Club.

The Sponsor Board From the start our members worked together to make the club a success. We started by holding garage sales and raffles at other shows and enlisted sponsorships to raise money, enough money to put on our first show only five months later!

Since that first show we have successfully obtained between 14 and 32 sponsors each year, helping us to maintain our solvency even in times of national economic woes. One of the ways we encourage club members to find sponsors is by giving them reduced entry fees for each sponsor they recruit. We were among the first ACFA clubs to produce a spectator guide, and as an incentive to sponsors, we not only honor them in a display at the show, we include their ads in the spectator guide that we give to the 1500 spectators who typically attend our shows.

Our 2006 sponsor board
After our first two years of development we began an activism beyond ACFA that has become engraved in our club identity.  We're proud to be supporters of worthy causes in the cat fancy community and the larger community as well.
We consistently donate to local feline charities such as the Iowa State University Feral Cat Alliance to help fund TNR (Trap Neuter Return of feral cats) efforts in Central Iowa. We've also supported feline charities on the national level by donating $233 to Katrina relief efforts. Within ACFA, we've donated matching funds to help ACFA Central Office become financially stable and helped other clubs in our region stay solvent.

Through it all we've continued to be a democratic club, with five different members holding the office of President in our seven years. We maintain a good-sized club ranging in membership from those seven charter members to our present 16. We all pitch in to help with the club's activities, including passing the entry clerk responsibility from one club member to another.

Some club members in 2009
Club members assemble awards for the 2009 show.
Junior ACFA Ring We are also enthusiastic supporters of Junior ACFA. Here you can see six young competitors along with club member Theresa Buehler, who served as the Junior ACFA competition judge in 2006.

In spite of being a very young club, we've already hosted the Regional Banquet twice and are preparing to do so again this fall (2009). We also continue to have fun at every show. Our themes have varied, too:

2002 - Feline Fall Fantasy
2003 - Cats of the Harvest Moon
2004 - Iowa State Fair (since our shows take place in the fairgrounds!)
This show celebrated the 150 years of the Iowa State Fair and, just as the fair has a cow carved out of butter, we displayed a cat carved from butter: The Butter Cat
2005 - Monster Magic
2006 - Casino Cats
The 2006 awards banquet was held in Prairie Meadows, our local casino/racetrack. Rosettes with chips and bills
2007 - Kat-tober Fest
2008 - Falling for Felines

In 2009, along with holding the North Central Regional Banquet for a third time, we will be celebrating our 16th Back-to-Back show with the theme "Sweet 16 and Never Been Hissed." Join us in Des Moines on October 3rd and 4th - but please leave the hisses at home.